Asia-Pacific governments endorse agenda for sustainable and inclusive development

Asia-Pacific countries concluded a week-long annual United Nations forum in Bangkok today, finalizing a comprehensive social and economic agenda for sustainable and inclusive development in the region.

Representatives of 60 countries, including senior government leaders are returning home from the 67th Commission Session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), with wide-ranging policy recommendations aimed at sustaining the region’s economic growth, while minimizing its’ social and environmental costs.

“Together we are shaping a new economic and social order to ensure a better and more secure future for the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer told government representatives in her closing statement.

The central theme of this year’s meeting emphasized the urgency of social protection and development at a time when high food and fuel prices have worsened poverty in Asia-Pacific countries which in turn could delay achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Reflecting this, a key outcome of the Session was an agreement by Asia-Pacific countries to invest in building a “social protection floor” offering a minimum level of access to essential services and income security to all.

“This Session has broken new ground in strengthening political commitment to advancing the social dimension of development,” the ESCAP chief said. “Countries of our region are progressively moving towards more comprehensive social protection systems that would guarantee a minimum level of security for all citizens.”

The 67th Commission adopted a set of resolutions on issues ranging from bridging wide development and infrastructure gaps within the region, to cooperation for energy security and disaster preparedness.

Following on from the Fourth United Nations global conference for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) held in Istanbul this month, the ESCAP Commission also urged priority be given to building productive capacities and connectivity to help the region’s poorest countries – mostly landlocked or small island nations – graduate out of their LDC status.

“The LDCs, the landlocked nations and the small island states of Asia-Pacific benefit most from a region working closer together to build productive capacity and connectivity to take advantage of growing trade and investment – the critical economic drivers for these most vulnerable and disadvantaged countries,” Dr. Heyzer concluded.